It is hard to get lost in just the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the IIHF World Championships are happening as well. The tournament is up to the quarterfinal stage and Team USA is having a run for the ages.
Team USA Off to the Semifinals Behind Casey DeSmith Second Shutout
Team USA remains undefeated (8-0) advancing to the semifinals of the IIHF Worlds after beating Czechia by a score of 3-0. The United States got some revenge on Czechia in the quarterfinals this year after the Czechs beat Team USA last year in the bronze medal game.
As we have seen over the years, the IIHF Worlds can be a great place for players to find their game. One of those players is Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith. DeSmith had a decent year for the Penguins recording a 3.17 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. Those numbers are not great. Especially for the NHL. There is talk of the Penguins moving on from him.
However, as Lee Corso says not so far. With his performance thus far in the tournament, the Penguins may reconsider things. Now they can still move on from him, but his performance for Team USA has the management of the Penguins (whenever the new management is announced) second thoughts.
In the five games he has started, he is 5-0 with a 1.19 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage including two shutouts. In addition, DeSmith was twice chosen as the Player of the Game. For the tournament, the Americans have the best save percentage with a .952.
DeSmith has looked rock solid for the Americans coming up with huge saves. Despite not having a great NHL season, he is gaining confidence for next season wherever he plays. Though he only faced 15 shots against Czechia, he had to be sharp from the start of the game.
Team USA will need DeSmith to remain sharp against a very competitive German team in the semifinals.
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Americans Got Speed
Since the tournament began, the Americans had one goal. Win the Gold Medal. It would be the first gold medal at this tournament since 1933. That is a long time. The 1980 Olympic gold medal does not count as a World Championship gold medal according to USA Hockey. Though the IIHF recognizes it.
But back to the team. Team USA is the fastest team in the tournament and it has been on display since Game 1. This team under head coach David Quinn has this team buzzing. At one point during the quarterfinals, they went on an 11-2 shot run pinning Czechia in their own zone for a long time. In addition, the Americans not only use their speed for offence but their defence as well.
Even on the bigger ice surface, the Americans can get back to their defensive zone and clog up the middle of the ice. It is making it tough for teams trying to generate offence on DeSmith. Canada showed you can play defence on a bigger ice surface back during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Cutter Gauthier Continues To Score
Leading the way for Team USA has been Philadelphia Flyers prospect, Cutter Gauthier. Gauthier has seven goals in the tournament including a hat trick against France. He has recorded those seven goals in eight games. Gauthier has an NHL release and that was on display in his goal against Czechia to make it 3-0 Team USA.
TJ Tynan won the faceoff, got the puck to Cutter Gauthier, and he scored.
These two have been so good together. 3-0. #IIHFworlds pic.twitter.com/tVObS0yq68
— Steven Ellis (@SEllisHockey) May 25, 2023
There is thinking about shooting for Gauthier. Once he gets the puck it is off his stick. That is what has been so impressive from Gauthier from the drop of the puck in Game 1 against Finland. He continues to make his presence felt along with the rest of the young Americans. In addition to Gauthier, Team USA got goals from Nick Perbix and Matt Coronato.
Gauthier’s seven goals are the second most in the tournament.
Team USA will play Germany on Saturday in the semifinals as they look to remain undefeated and try to play for a gold medal. Their best result at this tournament in recent memory has been a bronze medal.
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